|During the early '80s, Alabama's blend of country, Southern rock and middle-of-the-road pop made them one of the most popular groups in the country and redefined the concept of "country band" in the process. Where most country groups of the time were either vocal groups modeled after Southern gospel quartets or bluegrass-influenced bands, Alabama reflected the notion of a rock band, where the members played their own instruments and wrote their own songs.
The group never pretended to be much more than a glorified bar band, which is exactly what they were when cousins Randy Owen, Jeff Cook and Teddy Gentry formed in Fort Payne, Alabama as Wildcountry in 1969. Eventually they worked their way to the bars of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, playing with a number of drummers until settling on Mark Herndon in the late '70s. The group changed its name to Alabama in 1977 and recorded two top 40 hits for the independent MDJ label before signing to RCA. Back in the days when a successful country album sold 100,000 units, Alabama cranked out six multi-platinum albums named after some of their most popular hits--40 Hour Week, Feels So Right, My Home's In Alabama, etc. Alabama won the Country Music Association's Entertainer Of The Year award from 1982-1984, the only act to take the honor three times. The group has sold more than 55 million albums and remains more popular with fans than with critics or the industry: they've won only two Grammys, but in 1989, the fan-voted TNN/Music City News Awards named Alabama the top country act of the '80s, and the band has won the American Music Awards for Favorite Group every year from 1983-1996.
By 1990, Alabama was relying on too much outside material and sounding tired (and they sometimes say as much themselves). They revived somewhat with Dancin' On The Boulevard, which featured more self-penned tunes than they'd done in years and returned them to the beach-music sound of their Myrtle Beach club-playing days.
This Biography was written by Brian Mansfield.